I thought I would take a little time to talk about the background these to aromatherapy products. Where they came from and how we gained the expertise to be able to build this shop and website.
Let me cast my mind back.
While I was working as an astrologer and spiritual advisor in the early 1980's, one thing was apparent. In the maelstrom of Mrs. Thatcher’s cuts taking life blood from the NHS, there was no money and therefore very little treatment for chronic illness.
The small resources available were focussed on high profile, acute operations that could be used for political kudos. In the meantime, the population suffered - if not in silence - and chronic illness was endemic. I saw it every day in my clients - arthritis, hay fever, eczema and back pain. The tale was always the same - the drugs prescribed were either too strong and the side effects cancelled out the healing effects - or they simply didn't work. There was little choice, but the patients were never encouraged to take charge of their own illness. The population was in a 'no win' situation.
So I decided to do something about it
One day I saw an advertisement for a course in aromatherapy.
"I'm going to do that." I announced
"What's that" replied my then husband
After completing an honours diploma at The London School of Aromatherapy I had plenty of ideas and 'Jill Bruce Aromatherapy' took the stage at The Complementary Medicine Show at Kensington Town Hall on 10th July 1987.
But I decided that I might just possibly ahead of my time.......I sold just 8 of my aromatherapy products!
But what was to become a dominant feature of this business, kicked in immediately. No matter what the economic state or the personal emotional upheavals,
This company formed itself for the good of the healing the community.
I can assure you, it might have a rest from time to time, but it never actually goes to sleep.
Within a few weeks, mail orders had arrived, a party plan offered and local craft fairs emerged.
So it slowly established itself and the small range of aromatherapy products for chronic illness and skin care it offered began to sell.
And then Michael Cook arrived.
Michael has been a student in my psychic development classes for many years and had become a family friend. Both Michael and I had undergone divorces in recent years and he had given up teaching and was looking for a new life.
"I'll come to shows with you." he said.
"We'll need a caravan." I said.
And so it began.
Within 1 year the company had been accepted at major shows over the country.
We became a familiar sight at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, The Royal Show, The Royal Welsh Show and most of the other well known venues.
The company grew at a terrific rate.
Suddenly people, who had been enduring the 'no win' stranglehold that medicine had on people in those days, were offered an alternative.
And they loved it.
And bought some more.
"Do you know, this really works?!" was a familiar first line of a telephone order.
Two years later The Jill Bruce School of Aromatherapy was founded and became one of the largest in the country, with students travelling from all across the globe to be trained.
I tutored aromatherapy and spiritual development of disease with emphasis on understanding the aura. Alongside it I taught in depth studies into the mind body spirit principle of essential oils.
Michael taught massage and the chemistry of essential oils. He fascinated our students with its application in the understanding of the effect of pollution in the environment and food, and their subsequent effects on the body.
We were principal teachers for both The International Federation of Aromatherapists, and The International Society of Professional Aromatherapists. (which subsequently merged and became
International federation of Professional Aromatherapists
In 1992 I was elected to the Council of the International Federation of Aromatherapists and in 1994 became its Vice Chairman.
The company continued to grow and at this point had several agents working at shows every weekend. All of them had been trained within the aromatherapy school.
In 1997, Elizabeth, my daughter joined the staff and concentrated on the then new technology to produce a month newsletter for our customers about new aromatherapy products we were designing and essential oil research articles.
But then disaster struck us.
Michael and I separated. I continued to maintain the business but Michael moved away. He returned several months later and we were reunited, but our philosophies of what we wanted from our lives had changed - so we changed our lives.
Elizabeth decided to take on a high powered job in recruitment, Michael went back to teaching and I closed down the school and the agents, and decided to rebuild the products from the bottom up.
I sat in Kidderminster market and simply started again, repackaging and re-evaluating what the population now wanted. As complementary medicine, was by now, everywhere, competition in the aromatherapy products arena was fierce.
In here now comes the saga of the soap. As usual, and with no idea how to do it, I laboured and experimented until I got it right. For several years it remained 1% of the turnover and 97% of my time!
With it we also introduced a range of toiletries which contained the beautiful absolutes of rose, jasmin and neroli, thus maintaining the high level of manufacture and luxury for which the company was already renowned.
I had also started to sell herbs and spices, and began to produce herbal remedies from plants which didn't have an essential oil. I also produced a range of incenses, made from resins, oils and herbs, in the way of the old apothecaries.
After a few months the quality of the products attracted the attention of the sales team at Birmingham Market, and they offered me a stand in a prime position. After due consideration Michael decided to come back into the business, and run the stand. Because the company now produced and sold a wider range of goods than simply aromatherapy products, it seemed appropriate to rename it "The Apothecary'.
It was immediately a resounding success. Birmingham has large Afro Caribbean and Asian communities, who all come from herbal backgrounds. They asked us for everything - knew how most of it worked. We learned about remedies from tropical islands and the desert tribes.
So as it all grew, the stand was constantly busy.
The Apothecary, from its inception, has always been at the forefront of what is required in the market place, and Michael and I were at this point concerned about the quality of food being sold in supermarkets. So they decided to sell organic whole foods. We were selling what are now easily available in supermarkets, but then were usually only available in delicatessens etc.
Again, this was very successful, as news spread around Birmingham that these goods were available in the city centre.
But this success was short lived, as it was time to build the now famous Bull Ring Shopping Centre', and to redevelop the market. As they started to dig up the roads it disturbed thousands of mice and rats who then swarmed around - and one night decided to have a wondrous feast on lots of organic wholefoods.
It was time to move on again.
This time it was back on the road, which is where the company stayed. In the winter Michael would teach, and I would make the products and send the mail order. In May we loaded up the caravan. Stacked boxes upon boxes of aromatherapy products alongside the dogs in the car, and went and sold everything that had been made.
And we kept on selling until September.
Back in the caravan in November and December for the Christmas shows, a rest, then in January make the soap. (Best to get it all done in one go....)
This was a very happy and successful time in which the now very large range of aromatherapy products certified by public approval.
In 2003, I decided to make perfume. Again I knew exactly nothing about it, but my experienced knowledge of blending and my vast knowledge of intuitive meditation produced the first 20 perfumes, which over time have now grown to 40.
In 2006 Michael started to ail. At first it was thought he had pancreatitis, but at the beginning of 2009 it was acknowledged that he had a very rare form of pancreatic cancer, for which there was no treatment, and no cure.
Sadly he died in January 2010.
For the last year of his life, I gave up work to nurse him, but the company as usual had a life of its own. Only the work I could cope with arrived, and as I became less sad, the work represented itself again.
Elizabeth, who had had a surprise baby - Dexter - 15 years after the last one, decided to build this web site. We are still here, with all that knowledge and experience of thos wonderful aromatherapy products behind us.
We hope we can help you, and that you will enjoy our range of products, produced by public demand, and which have been used, tested and enjoyed by people since 1987.
Do you have memories of us selling the aromatherapy products out on the road?
Just some of the people who have helped us to make these aromatherapy products what they are today.
Angela Swann - the best clairvoyante you will ever find, and a knife edged Black Country humour that stops you in your tracks.
Karen Reeves - easily the most long suffering and patient employee who put up with unrefined chaos at times to always produce exactly what was needed. I could always rely on her, and was always so glad she was there.
Marian Wood - who made our aromatherapy products for many years, and made them impossible to copy because she simply poured her own goodness and healing energy into them.
Ruth Bowley - Always made us laugh with her 'wotsits'. Because she has been a piece worker in Black Country factories for many years, she could strip any machine down, and fix it - who needs maintenance men when time is money, eh? Her keen eye would see ahead of any ensuing chaos, she'd snap her fingers and we'd have an efficient production line in no time.
Paul Pickering - who travelled on the road with us for many years as an agent selling the very earliest aromatherapy products. He was always good humoured, and really loved to sell Rose and Ylang Ylang skin care, and Aphrodisia Massage Oil.
So without further ado... I present The Apothecary and the aromatherapy products of which I am so very proud!
From aromatherapy products history to the home page of the aromatherapy website www,aromatherapy-natural-products.com home page.